|Maximilian Reichsfreiherr von Weichs|
|Born||12 November 1881|
|Died||27 September 1954(aged 72)|
|Place of birth||Dessau|
|Place of death||Burg Rösberg near Bonn|
German Empire (to 1918)|
Weimar Republic (to 1933)
|Years of service||1900-1945|
1st Panzer Division|
Army Group B
Army Group F
World War I|
World War II
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Iron Cross 1st Class
Iron Cross 2nd Class
Clasp to the Iron Cross
Maximilian Maria Joseph Karl Gabriel Lamoral Reichsfreiherr von Weichs zu Glon (12 November 1881 – 27 September 1954) was a German Generalfeldmarschall during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German language: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Early life and career
Weichs was born into a noble family at Dessau in Anhalt, a son of an Army colonel. Following his graduation from the Wilhelmsgymnasium in Munich, he entered the Bavarian Cavalry in 1900 and fought with them in World War I. From 1915 until 1918 he served with the General Staff of the 3rd Bavarian Army Corps. After the war he remained in the newly created Reichswehr where he worked at a number of General Staff positions and later served as an instructor. Transferred from the 3rd Cavalry Division to command Germany's 1st Panzer Division upon its formation in October 1935, he led the unit in maneuvers that impressed Army Commander in Chief Werner von Fritsch. Weichs' aristocratic and cavalry credentials demonstrated the continuing influence of these military elites in Germany's modernizing force.
In October 1937 he became the commander of the 13th Army Corps, that later served in the 1938 German annexation of the Sudetenland.
World War II
For the German invasion of Poland beginning World War II in 1939, Weichs was appointed head of his own Army Corps "Weichs". After the Polish surrender, and in preparation for the invasion of France, he was made Commander-in-Chief of the 2nd Army, a part of Rundstedt’s Army Group A in the West. For his successes in the French campaign he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and promoted to colonel-general. Leading his corps, Weichs later took part in the Balkans Campaign, and in preparation for Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, he was assigned to lead the 2nd Army as a part of Fedor von Bock’s Army Group Centre. He led the 2nd Army in 1941 through the Battle of Kiev, the Battle of Smolensk, and then on to Vyazma and Bryansk.
In 1942, for Fall Blau, Weichs was assigned to lead the newly created Army Group B. Army Group B was composed of Hans von Salmuth's 2nd Army, Hermann Hoth’s 4th Panzer Army, and Friedrich Paulus' 6th Army. In addition to the German armies, Army Group B included the 2nd Hungarian Army, 8th Italian Army, the Third and the Fourth Romanian Army. The 6th Army was assigned to take the city of Stalingrad and cover approximately 800 km of front.
Weichs warned about his lines being stretched too thinly, but Adolf Hitler ignored his warnings. Weichs' fears were realised when Operation Uranus smashed the Romanian armies on his flanks, cutting off the 6th Army inside Stalingrad. Suggesting retreat, Weichs fell out of Hitler’s favor. Consequently, parts of Army Group B were taken away from Weichs' command and incorporated into a new Army Group Don, led by Erich von Manstein. Later in February the remaining part merged with the Don Group into a newly reinstated Army Group South, also led by Manstein. Weichs was put in leader reserve.
Weichs was promoted to Generalfeldmarschall on 1 February 1943. As the German situation was starting to become more dire, in August 1943 Weichs was appointed Commander of Army Group F in the Balkans defending against possible Allied invasion in what was seen as Germany’s weak underbelly and fighting off local partisan groups that were gaining strength. In late 1944, he oversaw the German retreat from Greece and most of Yugoslavia.
As Nazi Germany fell apart, Weichs was finally retired on March 25, 1945, and was arrested by American troops in May. During the Nuremberg Trials, Weichs was implicated in war crimes committed while suppressing the partisans, however, he was removed from the Hostages Trial due to medical reasons without having been judged or sentenced.
Weichs died at Burg Rösberg near Bonn.
Medals and decorations
|Date||Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording||Direct English translation|
|19 January 1945 (extra)||Unter der sicheren Führung des Generalfeldmarschalls Freiherr von Weichs und des Generalobersten Löhr haben Truppen aller Waffengattungen des Heeres und der Waffen-SS in vorbildlicher Kampfgemeinschaft mit Verbänden der Luftwaffe und Kriegsmarine erst bei tropischer Hitze und dann in Schneestürmen der kroatischen Berge, die besonderen Schwierigkeiten dieses Gebirgs- und Bandenkrieges gemeistert und sämtliche gegen Flanken und Rücken ihrer Bewegungen gerichteten feindlichen Angriffe erfolgreich abgewehrt.||Under the secure leadership of Field Marshal von Weichs and Colonel General Löhr, troops of all branches of the Army and the Waffen-SS in an exemplary combat alliance with forces of the Air Force and Navy, at first in tropical heat and then into snow storms of the Croatian mountains, have overcome the particular difficulties of this mountain- and partisan-war, and successfully defended all hostile attacks against their flanks and rear movements.|
Dates of ranks
- Showalter, D. Hitler's Panzers: The Lightning Attacks That Revolutionized Warfare. New York: Berkley, 2009. p 47.
- Showalter 2009, p. 59.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 772.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, pp. 408, 409.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) (in German). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches]. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
- Hürter, Johannes (2006). Hitlers Heerführer - Die deutschen Oberbefehlshaber im Krieg gegen die Sowjetunion 1941/42.
- Scherzer, Veit (2007) (in German). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives]. Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
- (in German) Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, 1. Januar 1944 bis 9. Mai 1945 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 3, 1 January 1944 to 9 May 1945]. München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2.
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